Below is a scouting report on Andrew Wiggins that I completed last May for a member of an NBA front office. With the end of the college season coming up in about a month and the scrutiny of a new draft class just picking up, I thought it would be fun to look back on some scouting reports I did last year and see how they hold up, at least after one year.
Andrew Wiggins Analysis
2014 NBA Draft
Andrew Wiggins is one of the few lottery picks in this draft who is an elite NBA athlete. He is an exceptional jumper and he jumps extremely quickly; his second jump is one of the fastest I have seen in all of basketball. His jumping ability is unmatched at the small forward position in this draft class. Wiggins is also fast and laterally quick. He gets to the basket on drives purely because his first step is so quick and he can use his length and athleticism to rise above defenders. Given his great athleticism, Wiggins should have no problem adjusting to the speed of the NBA game or the size and length of defenders.
Wiggins is an excellent defender and the best at his position in this draft class. He displays good instincts, technique, footwork, and effort. He positions himself well and keeps his eye on the ball and his man as the play progresses. As a help side defender Wiggins will come over and meet the opponent as soon as possible, either stopping him from getting to the rim or making a play on the ball as the shot goes up. Wiggins also plays good on-the-ball defense. He stays engaged with his man and moves his feet exceptionally well to stay in front of his opponent on the perimeter. In the post, even though he has a thin frame, he will body up his opponent and he does a great job of leveraging his weight to make it difficult for his opponent to back him down. There is tape of an AAU game in 2012 that pitted Wiggins against Julius Randle. Even though Randle is 50 pounds heavier and went on to average 32.5 points per game his senior year, Wiggins guarded him in the post and held him to 15 points in that game.
Additionally, Wiggins’ hands stay very active and his length helps him get into passing lanes, strip the ball easily, and alter or block shots. As a shot blocker Wiggins excels in part because of his patience. He has a very good sense of when his opponent is going to shoot and he waits for the ball to leave his defender’s hands.
He should be able to come into the NBA and make an immediate impact on the defensive end. More than any other prospect in this draft, Wiggins will have the easiest time picking up defensive schemes and responsibilities in the NBA. It would help his transition if he got a little stronger and put on about 10 pounds but he should transition easily nonetheless.
Overall Effort and Smart Basketball Plays
Wiggins makes the right plays and stays within the flow of the offense. If the man in the post has sealed his defender, Wiggins does not hesitate to throw an entry pass immediately upon catching the ball. When he gets a defensive rebound or loose ball he often passes it ahead right away instead of wasting time dribbling the ball up the court. Wiggins is more concerned with making the smart, easy play than he is with getting his own points. He moves very well on offense and cuts to the basket often. Wiggins is also very good at creating contact and getting to the line. He could do a better job of finishing after the contact, however, and as he gets stronger he should improve in this area.
Wiggins does a lot of little things that make him a good basketball player. He boxes out well, he crashes the offensive boards, and, previously mentioned, he is a very willing and smart help side defender. Wiggins is also even-keeled on the floor; there does not seem to be much that rattles him. Even when he is having a bad shooting night his body language does not change; his head is focused on the game and his team. This is a valuable trait for an NBA rookie, especially because the season is so long and he will have his ups and downs as the year progresses.
Wiggins’ shooting form is excellent. He gets consistent lift on his jump shot and his body stays vertical. His form is exactly the same whether he is shooting it from beyond the arc or pulling up for a midrange jumper. His follow through is strong and his motion is fluid. Wiggins’ three-point percentage is average but he can be an above average NBA three-point shooter. He has NBA range and is very comfortable shooting from 20-23 feet. In his games against West Virginia, Florida, and Kansas State, eight of his nine made three-pointers were from or beyond the NBA three-point line. He needs to be more consistent but the skill and technique are there.
The flip side to Wiggins making the right plays and moving the ball well is that he can be very passive at times. There are stretches of five to six minutes where Wiggins will catch the ball without even looking at the basket. It is frustrating to see a player that is so talented and with so much hype defer to every other player on the court.
However, this weakness is exaggerated to a degree. At times, he can very passive, but he still averaged over 17 points per game on one of the best teams in the country. During the regular season against teams that made the tournament, Wiggins averaged 18.7 points per game. Against teams in the Top 25 Wiggins averaged 20 points per game. So by the numbers, Wiggins played better and more aggressive overall against better teams. Regardless, Wiggins needs to become more assertive offensively. If not, he will end up being a good player but not necessarily one that was worth a top 3 draft pick.
Wiggins’ offensive game is simple. He gets a lot of his points on catch and shoot threes, one or two dribble pull ups, drives to the basket, and offensive rebounds. He does not take a lot of contested jump shots and he is somewhat predictable offensively. Wiggins almost never drives to his left from the perimeter. If he is putting the ball on the floor going left, the vast majority of the time he is either going to pull up after one dribble or pass it. When he does drive to the basket from either side, he either drives straight past the defense or he drives and spins over his left shoulder. It is rare to see Wiggins cross a defender over or utilize more than one offensive move in his attempt to score.
This weakness is not a big red flag. Wiggins did not display advanced one-on-one skills but he did not need to either. He played simply but he created space on his jump shot and he is athletic enough to rise above his defenders on a jumper or at the basket. He does not seem incapable of crossing a defender over or combining offensive moves. Wiggins needs to tighten up and gain confidence in his ball handling skills, but once he does this he will be able to score in more ways and be more deadly in an isolation setting.
Finishing in Traffic
Wiggins needs to improve the rate at which he finishes in traffic in the paint. If he creates contact or thinks a foul will be called he often tosses the ball up at the hoop, not focusing the rim or putting the ball in the basket. Sometimes it seems as if he is content with going to the line for two instead of making the basket and completing a three-point play. If he thinks that he has drawn contact but no foul is called, he throws up a bad shot in the lane that has no real potential to go in the basket. Part of his problem is that he has a thin frame. If he puts on some weight he should be able to absorb contact better and finish through it. The other part of the problem is his mindset. Wiggins needs to not be content with drawing a foul and getting to the line. He needs to use his length and athletic ability to finish in traffic, regardless of whether he is fouled or not.
Possible NBA Comps
Tracy McGrady, Paul George, Nicolas Batum
Tracy McGrady is Wiggins’ ceiling from an offensive standpoint. McGrady is the same height and about 25 pounds heavier than Wiggins. Wiggins is just as athletic as McGrady, but McGrady is a very hard ceiling to live up to. McGrady is one of the best scorers and one-on-one players of the last 20 years. He has Hall of Fame stats and has statistical seasons rivaling Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and LeBron James. His offensive repertoire was far superior to what Wiggins currently possesses. McGrady also had better court vision and was a better passer than Wiggins. Wiggins, on the other hand, is a better one-on-one and overall defender than McGrady was. Athletically they are very similar; both are extremely quick jumpers and have no problem finishing over defenders. Both players get offensive rebounds at a high rate and use their quick second jumping ability to tip in missed shots. McGrady is a comp that is possible, but not probable by any means. Wiggins would have to take a giant step forward offensively to become a player like Tracy McGrady.
The better comps for Andrew Wiggins are Paul George and Nicolas Batum. Wiggins, George, and Batum are the almost exact same size and have almost the same wingspan. All players are good defenders who use their length to disrupt their opponent. If Wiggins does not become more assertive, his floor is Nicolas Batum. As a role player Wiggins is capable of putting up Batum-like numbers: 13-14 points, 4-5 assists, and 5-7 rebounds per game. However, Wiggins is slightly more athletic, has a better jump shot, and a quicker first step than Batum. As such, Wiggins should outperform Batum offensively. The team that drafts Wiggins should hope he develops into a “Super Batum,” putting up similar rebounding and assists numbers but posting higher points per game and PER, somewhat similar to Paul George. Although George and Wiggins play with different styles, Wiggins’ ideal production level is similar to George’s in Indiana: averaging 20-plus points, 3-plus assists and about 7 rebounds per game.
He will not be able to single-handedly carry a team deep into the playoffs but he is capable of being a very good NBA player. Pairing him with another star player in two or three years should make that team an immediate playoff team. Speculation of Wiggins as the number one overall pick is a product of his high ceiling but also a product of his high floor. Given his physical tools and his defensive ability, he is a very low risk draft pick.